TVC in big comeback victory

Hikurangi move to top of East Coast competition

Hikurangi move to top of East Coast competition

Charging through: Uawa hooker Moana Nuku lowers his right shoulder as TVC halfback Tevita Vaka prepares to make the tackle. Picture by Te Rauhuia Kutia-Ngata

The effects will be long-lasting — 2017 champions Tihirau Victory Club have produced the performance of the year so far in East Coast club rugby: an incredible 13-10 comeback win against previously unbeaten Uawa.

TVC (now 22pts) unseated Uawa (24pts) at Uawa Domain in the biggest result of Week 6.

Although Uawa got a bonus point for being within seven points of TVC’s winning score, Hikurangi’s bonus point 36-0 win against Hicks Bay (9pts) has pushed them past Uawa. Hikurangi (26pts) now lead the pack.

Tokararangi (23pts) beat Ruatoria City (8pts) 27-19 to retain third place, while Waiapu (5pts) tasted victory for the first time this season, 52-22 against Tokomaru Bay United (7pts).

United, Waiapu, Tokararangi and Hikurangi all took bonus points for scoring four tries.

Uawa first five-eighth Jordan Birch and centre Jesse Rye scored excellent tries on a hard track to give the hosts a 10-0 lead at the break but TVC’s never-say-die philosophy kept the visitors in the game.

Starting lock Joe Waenga kindled hope with a try 10 minutes into the second half and also kicked a penalty goal to close it to 10-8 at the 60-minute mark.

It was left to lock Hirini Delamere to do what Uawa’s reserve hooker Richard Tuhaka did a fortnight ago against Hikurangi: score a try, on full-time, to not just win the game, but hand the home team their first loss of the season.

Neither the wet conditions nor even the sheer physicality of the contest could distract TVC fullback Ben Haerewa, a key figure in the game, whose educated right boot and tactical kicking were crucial factors in TVC’s improved field position in the last 20 minutes.

TVC are now the proud holders of the George Keelan Memorial Shield, which TVC and Uawa contest every time they play.

“At times, it was forceback — Ben for us, Tipene Meihana for them, so being at the right end of the ground was crucial,” TVC captain and second five-eighth Moana Mato said.

“The trip to Tolaga is the longest, at nearly three hours, that we make. Today our boys played with mana and passion — those are things you can’t coach.”

TVC player-coach Whetu Haerewa, who normally slots in at hooker, played lock on a day when his team had no reserves.

“We had to work for that result,” he said.

“We were fortunate to have City and Hikurangi, both hard games, before Uawa — we scrummaged well in the second half . . . dug deep.”

Delamere had a great game, especially at the front of the lineout, although it was openside flanker Hoani Te Moana and No.8 Solomon Vaka who shared the visitors’ player-of-the-day award for their superb toughness and competitiveness in all facets of play.

Uawa and TVC responded well to the excellent showing of Poverty Bay referee Damien Macpherson — not one card was issued — to take nothing away from the ruggedness of the game as a contest.

Both teams won lineout ball against the throw, and tightheads against the feed.

Uawa captain lock Scott Lasenby said: “We’re gutted, but TVC fought back and deserved the win.

“We did get some strong performances: our player of the day, left wing Oscar Canseca Munoz, was outstanding under the high ball and was dangerous on counter-attack.”

The 17-year-old Chilean, a native of Chillan, has loved his two and a half months in Tolaga Bay.

“I came to New Zealand to play rugby,” he said.

“It’s not a big sport where I come from — everyone plays football there — but rugby is my passion.”

The Mountain sits atop East Coast rugby

For the first time in 2018, Hikurangi lead the eight-team competition, and they marked their ascent with a 36-0 win against Hicks Bay at Wharekahika. In so doing, they lifted the Pirika Huriwai-Jones Memorial Trophy — contested whenever the holders play at home — for the first time since Hicks Bay’s 20-19 win in the 2015 semifinal.

Like Uawa, Hikurangi — who hold the Kath McLean Cup — now have five wins to date with two weeks remaining in this year’s first round.

It took the visitors 15 minutes to crack Hicks Bay’s defence. Blindside flanker Trent Proffit scored the first try, which fullback Te Aho Morice converted for 7-0.

Morice scored 10 minutes before the break for 12-0, the half-time score, and converted two of Hikurangi’s four second-half tries.

Centre Kahu Ward struck first, followed by left wing Zyon Collins, and fullback Fabyan Kahaki finished the game with a double.

Kahaki’s last try, seven minutes from time, was sensational. Just on Hicks Bay’s side of halfway, five metres off the right sideline, Collins caught the ball off a missed line-kick by Hicks Bay. He found Kahaki on the inside. The fullback then beat two men, grubber-kicked on the fly at the 22, overtook a turning defender and dived on the ball, just to the right of the posts.

Hikurangi coach Doone Harrison was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“In the first half, Hicks Bay ran hard one off the ruck and used box-kicks to squeeze us into corners,” he said.

“In the second half, we had more ball, and our backs took their chances.”

Loosehead prop Tahu Walker was Hikurangi’s player of the day, with openside flanker Kaumoana Te Awhitu claiming that award for Hicks Bay.

Hicks Bay player-coach and second-five Warren Henderson said: “Kau had another blinder in a hard game and our No.8, Kingi Earl, carried the ball strongly, too. It was a solid battle up front.”

Henderson was impressed by the clear communication of referee Matt Richards in his first senior appointment.

Hicks Bay manager and former East Coast Rugby Union president Graeme Summersby added: “These games are very competitive. They can be unruly, but he showed great control.”

They did it

Six weeks in, Waiapu have their first win of the season, 52-22 against Tokomaru Bay United, in the weekend’s most open game.

Both sides threw caution to the wind but the handling, support play and quality of rugby didn’t suffer for it.

Tripoli Poi scored a hat-trick for Waiapu, twice from No.8, once from second-five.

His teammates, centre Richard Tupou (player of the day) and fullback Wayne Kahaki each grabbed a double, with hooker Grayson Mauheni getting one try and first-five Slade Tiopira kicking six conversions.

“Richard was great on attack and, in cover defence, all of our forwards tackled well,” Waiapu coach Kahu Waitoa said.

“We and United had exactly 15 players to start with. We were certainly grateful that Wayne arrived (five minutes before kick-off) when he did.”

In his first full season as Tokomaru Bay United skipper, tighthead prop Adam Williams — whose father, Billy Boy Williams, played loosehead and anchor while also captaining United for 22 years — scored two tries, with player-coach and lock Mike Tiopira and first-five Matt Marino scoring a try apiece. Second-five Sebastian Chambers kicked one conversion.

United’s player of the day, blindside flanker Steve Niania, played a mighty hand in the wet conditions, with ferocious tackling and powerful running.

Tiopira said: “It was a tight game up front, and the rain made it more so.”

Despite the gritty nature of the game at close quarters, both teams played positive rugby: halfback Jake Williams ran to the defensive line to give his cousion and captain, Adam Williams, an assist for his first try. Adam Williams later ploughed five metres through four men to score for his double.

At halftime, Waiapu led 21-17.

With this result, every team in the competition has now won a game and none can afford to underestimate those currently ranked five to eight.

A fortnight ago, Ruatoria City were placed seventh with the prospect of having to defend Whakarua Park against defending champions Tihirau Victory Club.

Uawa’s last-gasp effort against Hikurangi and TVC’s away win against Uawa on Saturday notwithstanding,City’s 27-all draw with TVC in Week 4 remains the shock result of the first round.

ARE Tokararangi the dark horses of the top four?

Tokararangi bounced back from their 14-7 loss at home to then-competition leaders Uawa in Week 5 with a 27-19 win against Ruatoria City. Tokararangi retook Te Araroa Domain and stamped their authority on the game with tremendous tries: No.8 Taylor Hovell scored twice, with a try each to player of the day lock Henry-John Waitoa, centre Teina Potae and right-wing Phoenix Brown.

Fullback Pamona Samupo kicked one conversion for Tokararangi. City player of the day, lock-cum-second-five Cody Ellis, right wing Te Ra Warmenhoven and left wing Nathaniel Fox scored tries for the visitors, with Fox kicking two conversions.

In the absence of Paddy Allen due to injury (right arm), Tim Barbarich slotted in at No.8 and assumed the captaincy. Barbarich and first-five Corey Walker displayed organisational ability and a sense of urgency — both men knew that the game was winnable.

Tokararangi’s lead was 17-5 at halftime. Hearts were in mouths. Walker was given a yellow card at the 55th minute, but the home team also transgressed. Loosehead prop Josh King and openside flanker Te Whetu Waitoa were sent to the sin-bin in succession: Tokararangi had been reduced to 13 men at a time when the game hung in the balance.

Regardless, Tokararangi were happy with the performance of referee James Palmer while captain second-five Israel Brown was rapt with the day and individual performances.

“That was a great match-effort from both teams,” Brown said.

“Henry-John led the way for us at the lineout, Te Aho (Haenga, halfback), Taylor (Hovell) and Pamona (Samupo) — they all stepped up today.”

Ruatoria City coach Lisa Muller said: “A number of our players were out with injuries, work commitments and, in one case, suspension, so I was proud of these guys. We had to play a forward (Ellis) in the backs but we pulled together and did it tough.”

• In Week 7, all games will kick off at 2.30pm. Tihirau Victory Club will host Hicks Bay at Cape Runaway, Tokomaru Bay United have Uawa at Hatea-a-Rangi, Waiapu play Ruatoria City in Rangitukia and Hikurangi play Tokararangi — 1 v 3 — at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria.

The effects will be long-lasting — 2017 champions Tihirau Victory Club have produced the performance of the year so far in East Coast club rugby: an incredible 13-10 comeback win against previously unbeaten Uawa.

TVC (now 22pts) unseated Uawa (24pts) at Uawa Domain in the biggest result of Week 6.

Although Uawa got a bonus point for being within seven points of TVC’s winning score, Hikurangi’s bonus point 36-0 win against Hicks Bay (9pts) has pushed them past Uawa. Hikurangi (26pts) now lead the pack.

Tokararangi (23pts) beat Ruatoria City (8pts) 27-19 to retain third place, while Waiapu (5pts) tasted victory for the first time this season, 52-22 against Tokomaru Bay United (7pts).

United, Waiapu, Tokararangi and Hikurangi all took bonus points for scoring four tries.

Uawa first five-eighth Jordan Birch and centre Jesse Rye scored excellent tries on a hard track to give the hosts a 10-0 lead at the break but TVC’s never-say-die philosophy kept the visitors in the game.

Starting lock Joe Waenga kindled hope with a try 10 minutes into the second half and also kicked a penalty goal to close it to 10-8 at the 60-minute mark.

It was left to lock Hirini Delamere to do what Uawa’s reserve hooker Richard Tuhaka did a fortnight ago against Hikurangi: score a try, on full-time, to not just win the game, but hand the home team their first loss of the season.

Neither the wet conditions nor even the sheer physicality of the contest could distract TVC fullback Ben Haerewa, a key figure in the game, whose educated right boot and tactical kicking were crucial factors in TVC’s improved field position in the last 20 minutes.

TVC are now the proud holders of the George Keelan Memorial Shield, which TVC and Uawa contest every time they play.

“At times, it was forceback — Ben for us, Tipene Meihana for them, so being at the right end of the ground was crucial,” TVC captain and second five-eighth Moana Mato said.

“The trip to Tolaga is the longest, at nearly three hours, that we make. Today our boys played with mana and passion — those are things you can’t coach.”

TVC player-coach Whetu Haerewa, who normally slots in at hooker, played lock on a day when his team had no reserves.

“We had to work for that result,” he said.

“We were fortunate to have City and Hikurangi, both hard games, before Uawa — we scrummaged well in the second half . . . dug deep.”

Delamere had a great game, especially at the front of the lineout, although it was openside flanker Hoani Te Moana and No.8 Solomon Vaka who shared the visitors’ player-of-the-day award for their superb toughness and competitiveness in all facets of play.

Uawa and TVC responded well to the excellent showing of Poverty Bay referee Damien Macpherson — not one card was issued — to take nothing away from the ruggedness of the game as a contest.

Both teams won lineout ball against the throw, and tightheads against the feed.

Uawa captain lock Scott Lasenby said: “We’re gutted, but TVC fought back and deserved the win.

“We did get some strong performances: our player of the day, left wing Oscar Canseca Munoz, was outstanding under the high ball and was dangerous on counter-attack.”

The 17-year-old Chilean, a native of Chillan, has loved his two and a half months in Tolaga Bay.

“I came to New Zealand to play rugby,” he said.

“It’s not a big sport where I come from — everyone plays football there — but rugby is my passion.”

The Mountain sits atop East Coast rugby

For the first time in 2018, Hikurangi lead the eight-team competition, and they marked their ascent with a 36-0 win against Hicks Bay at Wharekahika. In so doing, they lifted the Pirika Huriwai-Jones Memorial Trophy — contested whenever the holders play at home — for the first time since Hicks Bay’s 20-19 win in the 2015 semifinal.

Like Uawa, Hikurangi — who hold the Kath McLean Cup — now have five wins to date with two weeks remaining in this year’s first round.

It took the visitors 15 minutes to crack Hicks Bay’s defence. Blindside flanker Trent Proffit scored the first try, which fullback Te Aho Morice converted for 7-0.

Morice scored 10 minutes before the break for 12-0, the half-time score, and converted two of Hikurangi’s four second-half tries.

Centre Kahu Ward struck first, followed by left wing Zyon Collins, and fullback Fabyan Kahaki finished the game with a double.

Kahaki’s last try, seven minutes from time, was sensational. Just on Hicks Bay’s side of halfway, five metres off the right sideline, Collins caught the ball off a missed line-kick by Hicks Bay. He found Kahaki on the inside. The fullback then beat two men, grubber-kicked on the fly at the 22, overtook a turning defender and dived on the ball, just to the right of the posts.

Hikurangi coach Doone Harrison was pleased with his team’s defensive effort.

“In the first half, Hicks Bay ran hard one off the ruck and used box-kicks to squeeze us into corners,” he said.

“In the second half, we had more ball, and our backs took their chances.”

Loosehead prop Tahu Walker was Hikurangi’s player of the day, with openside flanker Kaumoana Te Awhitu claiming that award for Hicks Bay.

Hicks Bay player-coach and second-five Warren Henderson said: “Kau had another blinder in a hard game and our No.8, Kingi Earl, carried the ball strongly, too. It was a solid battle up front.”

Henderson was impressed by the clear communication of referee Matt Richards in his first senior appointment.

Hicks Bay manager and former East Coast Rugby Union president Graeme Summersby added: “These games are very competitive. They can be unruly, but he showed great control.”

They did it

Six weeks in, Waiapu have their first win of the season, 52-22 against Tokomaru Bay United, in the weekend’s most open game.

Both sides threw caution to the wind but the handling, support play and quality of rugby didn’t suffer for it.

Tripoli Poi scored a hat-trick for Waiapu, twice from No.8, once from second-five.

His teammates, centre Richard Tupou (player of the day) and fullback Wayne Kahaki each grabbed a double, with hooker Grayson Mauheni getting one try and first-five Slade Tiopira kicking six conversions.

“Richard was great on attack and, in cover defence, all of our forwards tackled well,” Waiapu coach Kahu Waitoa said.

“We and United had exactly 15 players to start with. We were certainly grateful that Wayne arrived (five minutes before kick-off) when he did.”

In his first full season as Tokomaru Bay United skipper, tighthead prop Adam Williams — whose father, Billy Boy Williams, played loosehead and anchor while also captaining United for 22 years — scored two tries, with player-coach and lock Mike Tiopira and first-five Matt Marino scoring a try apiece. Second-five Sebastian Chambers kicked one conversion.

United’s player of the day, blindside flanker Steve Niania, played a mighty hand in the wet conditions, with ferocious tackling and powerful running.

Tiopira said: “It was a tight game up front, and the rain made it more so.”

Despite the gritty nature of the game at close quarters, both teams played positive rugby: halfback Jake Williams ran to the defensive line to give his cousion and captain, Adam Williams, an assist for his first try. Adam Williams later ploughed five metres through four men to score for his double.

At halftime, Waiapu led 21-17.

With this result, every team in the competition has now won a game and none can afford to underestimate those currently ranked five to eight.

A fortnight ago, Ruatoria City were placed seventh with the prospect of having to defend Whakarua Park against defending champions Tihirau Victory Club.

Uawa’s last-gasp effort against Hikurangi and TVC’s away win against Uawa on Saturday notwithstanding,City’s 27-all draw with TVC in Week 4 remains the shock result of the first round.

ARE Tokararangi the dark horses of the top four?

Tokararangi bounced back from their 14-7 loss at home to then-competition leaders Uawa in Week 5 with a 27-19 win against Ruatoria City. Tokararangi retook Te Araroa Domain and stamped their authority on the game with tremendous tries: No.8 Taylor Hovell scored twice, with a try each to player of the day lock Henry-John Waitoa, centre Teina Potae and right-wing Phoenix Brown.

Fullback Pamona Samupo kicked one conversion for Tokararangi. City player of the day, lock-cum-second-five Cody Ellis, right wing Te Ra Warmenhoven and left wing Nathaniel Fox scored tries for the visitors, with Fox kicking two conversions.

In the absence of Paddy Allen due to injury (right arm), Tim Barbarich slotted in at No.8 and assumed the captaincy. Barbarich and first-five Corey Walker displayed organisational ability and a sense of urgency — both men knew that the game was winnable.

Tokararangi’s lead was 17-5 at halftime. Hearts were in mouths. Walker was given a yellow card at the 55th minute, but the home team also transgressed. Loosehead prop Josh King and openside flanker Te Whetu Waitoa were sent to the sin-bin in succession: Tokararangi had been reduced to 13 men at a time when the game hung in the balance.

Regardless, Tokararangi were happy with the performance of referee James Palmer while captain second-five Israel Brown was rapt with the day and individual performances.

“That was a great match-effort from both teams,” Brown said.

“Henry-John led the way for us at the lineout, Te Aho (Haenga, halfback), Taylor (Hovell) and Pamona (Samupo) — they all stepped up today.”

Ruatoria City coach Lisa Muller said: “A number of our players were out with injuries, work commitments and, in one case, suspension, so I was proud of these guys. We had to play a forward (Ellis) in the backs but we pulled together and did it tough.”

• In Week 7, all games will kick off at 2.30pm. Tihirau Victory Club will host Hicks Bay at Cape Runaway, Tokomaru Bay United have Uawa at Hatea-a-Rangi, Waiapu play Ruatoria City in Rangitukia and Hikurangi play Tokararangi — 1 v 3 — at Whakarua Park in Ruatoria.

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